So (as at time of writing) we’re heading into taster season at Slimming World groups with the “Earliest Christmas Party in Town” coming up soon, followed by “Miss Slinky” and “Mr Sleek” and then no doubt a proper Christmas party sometime before the 25th December – I thought I’d run through some of the things I usually take to taster sessions.
My “Philosophy” for Taster sessions.
OK – I’ll admit – I tend to take more than one dish – sometimes up to 3 or 4 dishes or at least variations on the theme. Do I have to do that? No. Doesn’t matter if you take one dish, three dishes or no dishes at all. I do it because a) I have the time and b) I want to.
I also keep it as cheap as possible (as always). I may take 3 dishes but they’ve probably not cost me more than £1/£1.50 a dish. (I do think that there should be one taster a year that has a spending cap on it – just to prove to everyone that with a little thought it doesn’t have to be expensive to follow the plan).
Taster Idea 1 – Couscous Balls
I linked to these on my “Favourite Recipes from Around the Net” post a few weeks ago. They’re from the “TwoChubbyCubs” and can be found here. They’re easy to make – couscous and an egg or two, and transport well. They do however take an hour or thereabouts to cook. I’ve always made these the morning of taster day so no idea on how well they store if you wanted to make them far ahead of time.
Taster Idea 2 – Cheesecake
Who doesn’t like a nice piece of cheesecake? (Unless your dairy intolerant that is). Though the recipe is for a lemon cheesecake, you can swap the lemon out for synned chocolate/cocoa powder. I keep meaning to try it with lime instead of Lemon too. Bit of work required to make this but can be made the night before (or two nights before if it’ll last that long in the fridge) which is a bonus.
Taster Idea 3 – Grapenut Pudding (or is it Grape Nut Pudding?)
Whilst if making this for myself I prefer to serve it hot, its equally nice to have cold so ideal again for making the night before if you attend a morning group. I’m told that although it is called “Grapenut Pudding” – it is in some parts eaten for breakfast anyhow.
Taster Idea 4 – Scanbran Cake
Ahhh. Scanbran. Love it or hate it, even some of the haters start to love it when baked into a cake. Chocolate cake? Lemon cake? Carrot Cake? Curly Wurly cake? The list goes on and on. The basic methods (plus my go-to carrot cake recipe) can be found here.
Taster Idea 5 – Cinnamon Swirls
Mmmmm. Cinnamon. Warm and sweet. And as cheap as chips from Aldi (in fact probably cheaper than chips in Aldi).
This one does tend to be messy and it does need a bit of kitchen space. Buy one pack of low-fat puff pastry. (I suppose you could make your own – but I ain’t a pastry chef and I haven’t got the time to make it, roll it, fold it, roll it, chill it, roll it, fold it, roll it, chill it). And at about £1.20 a roll – it’s seems pricey but that it the main cost on this dish. There’s only two other ingredients – cinnamon and sweetener.
Unroll the pastry and cut it lengthways to make two long strips. Roll one strip up and put back in the fridge for the moment. On the strip you’re using sprinkle with two tablespoons of sweetener (Technically 1syn but as you’ll be getting 25-30 portions – it equates to nearly nothing). Then sprinkle with cinnamon. The original recipe I found said 2 tablespoons. It’s not enough. I just sprinkle it on liberally. Then it’s a case of rolling it up into a long sausage/swiss roll type affair before cutting into slices about 1cm or so thick. Place these slices onto a lined baking sheet and put in a preheated oven at about 200c for 10-12 minutes (or whatever cooking time is suggested on the pastry box). Once cooked remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Repeat for the other half of the pastry.
Syns wise – all the low-fat puff pastry brands seem to have different syn values. But it’s the syn value for the sheet of pastry plus the 1syn for the sweetener, divided by the number of “swirls” you managed to cut. Typically it works out at about 1/1.5syns each but that may vary.
I’ve had some success with doing these the night before – but it’s pastry – it will start to go soggy so these days I tend to make them the morning before if it’s an afternoon session.
Taster Idea 6 – Mince Pies
So as I write this we’re heading to the “Earliest Christmas Party in Town” launch in Slimming World groups – and as it’s obviously a Christmas theme – what is more Christmassy than Mince Pies?
Jarred mincemeat is now wildly available at this time of year (October) and some places sell it all year round. It is a bit pricey starting at around £1 a jar but it goes a long way.
There have been various mince-pie recipes kicking around for years. Some using rounds cut out of wholemeal bread for a more “traditional” shape of mince-pie. Some use filo pastry (synned of course) either as an open pie or wrapped up in a parcel. Or how about using a wholemeal sandwich thin?
Simply put a teaspoon of mincemeat (about 1syn – but may vary slightly by brand) onto each piece of the thin before folding into a triangle (it may help to egg wash the edges. I then crimp the edges with a fork, before egg washing the top. The original recipe then called for sprinkling with sweetener but I’m not sure that brings anything to the end dish so leave it out. Bake at 200c for about 10 minutes.
Ideally best served warm. I have done these the night before and they went a little soft.
Two triangles is a Healthy Extra B (or about 5.5syns if you have used your B choice elsewhere) plus 2 syns for the mincemeat.
Serve “as is” or mix some quark, sweetener and a little vanilla essence together to make a creamy topping.
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